June 1, 2013

Northern California: Fit, healthy & wealthy

130531-afi-top10The American College of Sports Medicine has released their annual American Fitness Index, and we’ve got three spots in the top ten.  You can check out lots of details over on their site, but here’s the the ten fittest metros (out of 50) on their list.

Notice who isn’t here? That’s right, New York City.  They’re a practically dead-average #24 out of 50.  The least healthy and fit metro? Oklahoma City.

San Jose metro (Santa Clara and San Benito County), as all the metros, was given a list of Strengths and Challenges in the fitness and health department.  It seems we’re good at some aspects of healthy living (good eating, fewer obese people, lots of biking to work) but we’re failling down with all the asthma and diabetes sufferers, not to mention all the loons living here. Also we’re low on some of the dedicated sports areas per capita, no doubt because they’d be better off as residential property (sheesh, anyone knows that).

130531-afi-sj

Again, you can feel free to peruse the website, because it has all kinds of interesting stuff on how they made their list. But the reason we’re calling the list out in the first place isn’t just because we have three cities in the Top 10.

It’s because somebody’s pulled a Burbed and decided to critique how this list was made.  Even better, the complaining site is one we’ve previously called out for not including San Jose metro on their own lists.

Updated: Nope, that was actually Travel & Leisure.

The basic complaints are that too many of the indicators that produce the index tend to line up with who has the money. The above Top 10 has a high correlation with household income.

130531-afi-appsorsAnd the bitchfest goes on: there are too many indicators and they end up reinforcing each other.  Worse, some of the Community Health numbers are for how many facilities are in the city limits, rather than the larger metro areas. Yes, this is an actual case of mixing apples and oranges, which is actually a reasonably healthy thing to do.

Finally, our critic notes that this sort of data doesn’t change much, so creating an annual list sort of defeats the point. Minneapolis has gotten #1 for the last 3 years.

Comments (2) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am






February 24, 2013

NOW is the time to buy or sell a house!

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) isn’t known for deep thinking.  After all, this is the group that brought you David Lereah, America’s very own Baghdad Bob on the topic of forecasting home values.  But let’s take a closer look at the idea that NOW is always the time to buy. After all, if now is not the time to buy, then now is the time to sell.

Turns out NAR has that one covered.  They’ve got a list of the best places to buy and sell, NOW.  And guess where is the time to sell NOW.

That’s right.  Where it’s Special.

Asheville, NC Tops Best Places To Buy In 2013

Real Estate News   |  Feb 14, 2013   |  By: Lexie Puckett | Realtor.com

130222-nar-ashevilleThe new year started on a positive note in January, with inventories at record lows and list prices holding steady on a year-over-year basis. Whether this shows a continuation of the nascent housing recovery into 2013 will depend on a variety of factors, including the strength of the overall economy, the cost and availability of mortgage credit, consumer expectations regarding future housing prices, and the success of continuing efforts to stem the flow of new foreclosures.

If inventories remain low — and if list prices begin to rise during the next few months, as they did last year — conditions are ripe for additional house price appreciation in 2013. However, such gains are likely to be concentrated in markets already well into their recovery process, such as California, Phoenix, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and many sand states. Markets in the older industrialized parts of the Midwest and the East will likely continue to struggle without a significant turnaround in their local economies. However, if inventories in these areas remain high, it could effectively set the stage for further declines in housing values in these local markets.

2013 Best Places to Buy and Sell

With two months remaining before the home-buying season opens, sellers have a huge advantage. In tight markets, such as the top five “Best Places to Sell,” sellers benefit from better prices than they’ve seen in years. In our five “Best Places to Buy,” buyers will find plentiful inventory and prices that haven’t experienced the increases others have seen during the past year.

So wait, are they saying that there actually exist places where NOW is not the time to buy? Well… no, because they would never want to prevent suckers from giving them money interfere with the free market.  Also commissions.

Here are NAR’s Top 5 Best Markets to Sell a House NOW.  Except they didn’t say NOW, but you KNOW it’s THERE.

130222-nar-sacto1. Sacramento. No, really. Inventory dropped even more than here where it really is Special, leading to price increases of (get ready to scream) 40%.  You forgot to invest in Sacramento last year, didn’t you?

2. San Jose.  Prices are up 25% here and inventory isn’t exactly generous. But unlike Sacramento, San Jose wasn’t rebounding from a complete price collapse.

3. San Francisco. They’re just copying us, and not as well.

4. Phoenix. See Sacramento. Inventory is down 16%, but so what? They simply make more land. What they can’t manage to make more of here is water.

5. Washington, DC. “With a median price of $429,900, D.C. is one of the nation’s priciest markets…”  Right, NAR.  You want to see what you can get here, where it’s actually Special, for $430,000?  This.

130222-nar-sheriann1889 SHERI ANN Cir
San Jose, CA 95131
$429,950

HOA Dues: $202/mo.
2 Beds
2 Baths
1,157 Sq. Ft.
$372 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1993
Lot Size: 435 Sq. Ft.
On Redfin: 1 day
Status: Active
HOA Dues: $202/month
Style: Contemporary
View: Neighborhood
County: Santa Clara
Property Type: Condominium Stories: 1-3 (Low Rise)
Community: Berryessa
MLS#: 81305233

Upcoming Open Houses

Saturday, Feb 23: 1:30-4:00 pm
Sunday, Feb 24: 1:30-4:00 pm

Dwnstrs condo has bright & open flr plan. Newer carpet, hrdwd flrs in entry & ktchn. Interior has been freshly painted. Spacious patio off of lving rm. Gas stove, dual sinks & recessed lights in Kitchen. Mster bdrm has it’s own patio, walk-in closet, recently updated bthrm, 2 sink vanity. Attchd 1 car garage w/ laundry. Community has large pool, spa, sports court, bbq/picnic area. Great location.

And by “Great location” they don’t really mean “great location.”  Yesterday’s house was “great location.”  This place is “You’re less likely to get shot than on Story Road.”

Now, lest you think all those California metros filling in the first 3 on that top 5 list are some big honking coincidence, here’s some data ripped straight out of NAR’s January Trends report.  The blog entry linked above is distilled from this longer report.

130222-nar-inventory

It goes on to confirm what we already knew: It’s Special Here. Then again, it’s even More Special in Sacramento.  Want to know where else it’s surprisingly Special?

130222-nar-dom

Anyone who doesn’t see Bubble written all over these tables simply is not paying attention.

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

January 29, 2011

Rent versus Buy, Take 117

Trulia has yet another view of the perpetual Rent versus Buy debate, and they’ve got lots of colored bubbles to help.  Bubbles are great.  They lead to high housing prices and if you own the house, you get to paint it any color you want (as long as you don’t live in a fascist HOA community).

imageThe map at right is from Trulia’s Rent vs Buy tool.  The rent ratio is calculated by comparing the median list price of a 2 bedroom condo or townhouse listed on Trulia to the average monthly rent, for the 50 largest cities in the United States.

You see the problem right away, don’t you?  2 bedroom condo or townhouse.  Excuse me, but who the heck wants to buy a 2 bedroom condo or townhouse?  Maybe some of us have to (if we want to own anything), but for those who can buy a single-family detached house, the ratio we want is the cost versus the rent of a three bedroom, two bath house with a yard.  Those are difficult to find in San Francisco, and almost nonexistent in New York City, but for everywhere else, such a thing is not only possible but highly desired.

So who cares if Trulia says San Jose has a price to rent ratio of 15 (which puts it right over the line for the BUY column)?  That means BUY don’t rent the condo.  The question is whether to buy the house, and they aren’t helping with that decision.

Here are Trulia’s Rent vs Buy numbers for some cities of interest.  Remember, under 15 means buy, over 20 means rent, and in between, it depends.  Maybe that means live somewhere else.

City Avg List Price Avg Rent Price to Rent Ratio
Fresno $90,446 $936 8
Sacramento $152,696 $934 14
Oakland $278,245 $1,625 14
San Jose $298,621 $1,691 15
Los Angeles $491,055 $2,460 17
San Diego $396,409 $1,670 20
San Francisco $774,728 $2,996 22
Portland $307,858 $1,145 22
Seattle $461,330 $1,546 25
New York City $1,383,612 $3,538 33

The biggest surprises on the full list?  Omaha, at 26 and Fort Worth at 30, although Trulia notes the Fort Worth sample size was insufficient. These numbers don’t show whether attached housing is seen as a city norm or not, and if not, at what discount does attached housing go for compared to detached.  I suspect the odd results for Omaha and Fort Worth are for that very reason.  There may be so few attached units that the results are meaningless.

So where does San Jose fit on the scale of urban to suburban?  Given the name of this website, perhaps San Jose house price rent ratios are in the thirties.

Comments (33) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

May 15, 2006

Hockey sticks everywhere!

Alright boys and girls. Time for a pop quiz!

What do you call this kind of graph?

StickGraph1.png

Not sure? That’s ok. let’s look at this one:

StickGraph1.png

Still not sure? Well, the answer is: hockey stick.

See, graphs like this usually represent situations like a company going public, or an amazing introduction of an amazing product/service. 

So… what do you think these graphs were from? My portfolio, perhaps? My stock options, perhaps? Nasdaq? S&P 500?

Nope. The answer is: Real estate!

Here’s the first graph again…  

StickGraphSantaClara.png

Ah yes… the county of Santa Clara – the heart of Silicon Valley. I thought that was pretty impressive until I saw Sacramento:

StickGraphSacramento.png

WOWSERS!

It’s amazing to me how people’s incomes have almost quadrupled since 1997 in Sacramento – after all, house price increases usually reflect job growth right? Oh wait…

Well it must have been because they stopped building homes in Sacramento in 2004, hence the spike! Oh wait…

Maybe it was because Sacramento suddenly shrunk so there was less land… because they started making more farms so we wouldn’t have to import our food from South America and Asia! Oh wait…

I’m stumped. What do you think?

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:00 am

May 10, 2006

Nation's Highest Median Income: Santa Clara at $97,100

Region’s median income on the rise – Sacramento Business Journal:
Median family income rose 3.15 percent over the past year in the Sacramento area, based on Department of Housing and Urban Development figures for 2006.

Median family income for the Sacramento Metropolitan Statistical Area is $65,400, up from $63,400 in HUD’s 2005 estimates.

The median means that half the households in the region make more and half make less.

The highest median-income metropolitan area in the country is San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, with a median income of $97,100, up 3.4 percent from the previous year. The second highest in the country was Bridgeport-Stamford, Conn. which had a median income of $95,900.

The median income in San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City was $91,200. Santa Barbara-Santa Maria’s median income is $65,800. The median in San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos was $64,900.

Wow… a median income of $97,100. No wonder real estate is so expensive. Maybe prices will never fall!

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:41 pm